Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

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Arctic warming: solutions beyond reducing CO2

Posted: December 4, 2015

Arctic warming: solutions beyond reducing CO2 Arctic sea ice. Credit: NASA/Thorsten Markus

Temperatures in the Arctic have increased at twice the global rate over the past few decades, leading to growing interest in the impacts of climate forcers on the Arctic. Associate Professor Mark Flanner is a lead author on a recent AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme) assessment on Arctic climate forcers.

The assessment, titled, “Black Carbon and Ozone as Arctic Climate Forcers,” states that the goal of constraining the length of the Arctic melt season and, in particular, delaying the onset of spring melt, may best be achieved by targeting shorter-lived climate forcing agents, such as methane, ozone, and black carbon.

“Reductions in the emission of carbon dioxide are the backbone of any meaningful effort to mitigate climate forcing,” the assessment states. “But even if swift and deep reductions are made, these may not be achieved in time to delay a rapid thawing of the Arctic.” Thus, there is a need to look at reducing other climate forcers.

According to Nature Climate Change, “Short-lived climate-forcing pollutants (SLCPs), such as black carbon (BC) and ozone, are substances that affect both air quality and climate. As the name suggests, they remain in the atmosphere for only short periods, that is, weeks or even days, and so their impact on climate can be mitigated almost instantaneously.”

To read the assessment, please visit amap.no. To read a related paper in Nature Climate Change, which Flanner co-authored, please visit nature.com. There is also an accompanying piece in Nature Climate Change “News and Views” here. The Nature paper is reference in a piece on carbonbrief.org.

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